I didn't really plan for it, but the night was a good night for a long walk. I'd first taken a longer route than usual through downtown because I'd wanted a closer look at a major remodel of a building near the KOIN Tower; as I approached, I got reminded of the Hawthorne Bridge near there, thought Why not?, and eventually steered myself towards it. It helps that the Hawthorne Bridge is my favorite Portland bridge to walk across. It's very pedestrian-friendly; it's very human-scaled. And a driver would have to drive very, very badly to wind up risking me or any other walkers or bicyclists, so I feel safer on it than on, for instance, the Ross Island or Morrison Bridges (people have been killed walking on the Morrison).
The weather is dry, for now, and trending towards warmer; I felt hints of that, and that was a small relief. I left the relative noise of downtown behind, and crossed the Hawthorne, where I could look up and see calm sky and look down and see reasonably calm water, along with rowers preparing to practice-race on that water. I could be glad that the effects of Japan's earthquake and tsunami had not reached that stretch of the Willamette. If the effects of the earthquake had reached all the way to that spot 100 miles upstream from the ocean, events would be even more horrifically wrong than they are.
Further walking, and further into relative quiet, past the doctored sign (near the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge) that used to, I think, advertise Pabst Blue Ribbon but has been commandeered by some graffiti artist, who painted both sides white and put on them one-word messages...messages that change every once in a while. One side now says "LAUGH," the other side now says "SMILE."
I walked carefully, as I always try to do. Don't be surprising, don't walk to where you might be vulnerable to a driver not paying attention, be alert ("we need more lerts," as shadesong would say), be safe. Not being in a hurry helped. I sometimes didn't cross at certain crosswalks so as not to hold up drivers who were turning. Try to keep the flow of traffic flowing, to the extent you can affect it. And don't get in the way of trains, because affecting the flow of a train is a BAD idea. (Late in my walk I crossed train tracks a few minutes ahead of an Amtrak train. Those go through my part of SE Portland fast. And earlier in my walk, in downtown, a truck almost blocked the way of a Max train. Got out of the way before the train had to move, but cut it close.)
So I walked, and thought, and processed news and ideas, and burned calories, and got some exercise, and breathed different air than I would have had I gone home my usual way. And now, I can sit guilt-free.